Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Noth Carolina Has Something For Everyone

A Crafter's Heaven
One of the things this part of the country is known for is the plethora of crafts.  The people are some of most prolific crafters we have ever seen.  There are quilters, potters, painters, black smiths, photographers and carvers, to name a few.

Shortly after our arrival I went to a blacksmithing demonstration at the University of North Carolina, Asheville campus.  Two local blacksmiths were discussing and demonstrating their art.

I got there early so I had a chance to visit with them at the forge before the rest of the spectators arrived.  The work that they are doing is beautiful.  Again, I wish I had gotten pictures. 

Only Zack Noble has a website.  I hijacked a couple pictures:


After their demo and discussion they allowed some of us to try our hands at smithing.  It looks easier than it proved to be to heat a round rod, shape it into a square, then taper it to a point.  I wish I had gotten some pics but I don't know how I could have pounded and held the camera at the same time!

One thing I did learn:  the biggest secret is how you place your tongue as you concentrate.  Left side of the mouth nets completely different results from those gained by holding it in the right side.

We visited the Folk Art Center a couple times.  It is home to the Southern Highland Craft Guild and houses a variety of items produced by local artisans.

The main floor is a store featuring every type of craft you can imagine.  I especially like the caricature carvings by Tom Wolfe.  I got off easy this time because they gallery does not allow picture taking!

The second floor has a great selection of beautiful quilts done by local quilters.  Again they did not allow pictures but suffice it to say they were impressive. 

A few weeks later we literally stumbled upon a woodcarving contest when we stopped to use the restrooms at the Folk Art Center.  Some of the exhibits were amazingly lifelike:


Some were whimsical:

And some were just incredible:

I have been working on my carving.  My woodcarving is not too good but man can I carve my fingers!


Hike 'Till Your Toes Fall Off!
One of the foremost activities in this area is hiking.  There are hundreds of trails covering many more hundreds of miles of territory.  Besides our hike on part of the Appalachian Trail I mentioned in another post, we did a few others too.

One is called the "Laurel Creek Trail".  It runs fairly close to Robin's parents' home.  We had a bit of controversy in family discussions because Robin's aunt, Margaret, said it is actually the Laurel River rather than Laurel Creek.  A debate ensued.  I looked at local maps and had to grudgingly admit that Margaret was correct.  Rats! (Actually, I had a lot of fun bantering with Margaret - she has a great sense of humor - Please DO NOT TELL HER!)

Here are some pics of that hike:


We had a surprise as we walked along - we looked up and saw an old train passenger car and caboose.  There was no connecting railway.  They were just out here in the woods.  There were "No Trespassing" signs so we did not venture any closer.  Had anyone been home you can be sure I would have knocked and gotten more information!!


We repeated the hike a few weeks later when Jessica came to visit.  It looked a lot different after the leaves had fallen.

We did another hike that started at the Folk Arts Center mentioned before.  It was a lot different from the faily level Laurel River hike.  This one seemed to go straight up.  It was grueling.

It is part of the Mountains to the Sea Trail.

Now THAT'S a Cottage!
The weekend before we left we had dinner at the Grove Park Inn followed by a tour of the Christmas Biltmore House.  This was thanks to Robin's aunt, Margaret, and her friends, Norris and Carol.

The Biltmore House is amazing.  It's a cozy 175,000 square foot 250+ room cottage!  Sheesh!
Here are some pics that I lifted from their website:



A truly beautiful place.  To think this was built in the 1890's.  That was before power tools!  Wow!

The first part of December arrived.  We wrapped up our extended visit with Robin's parents and North Carolina.  We headed south for some warmer weather and more opportunity for Chasin' Our Dreams.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

We're Still Alive!!!

Well - Where to begin?  How about a Wyoming wrap-up?

We spent our last couple weeks in Wyoming getting used to our camper.  It was quite a challenge to get accustomed to living in something 10 feet long and 7 feet wide. (not including the bed area over the truck cab).

It has not been as difficult as we thought.  The camper is very well designed.  I think the floor plan is as well developed as it could be.

As with all used vehicles, there were some issues to address.  We spent a few days replacing the holding tank valves.  The originals were broken but the valve manufacturer assured me the new versions are lots better in quality.  I ordered all the parts and began a multi-day odyssey through the darkest recesses of RV holding tanks.  I'll stop here and leave those images to your imaginations.

One weekend we did go to a local campground not too far from the east entrance to Yellowstone.  My sister, Demity, and her husband, John, took their camper and shared some of their knowledge and experiences with us.

We are now dyed in the wool campers!

Our last weekend took us into Yellowstone where we spent a couple days seeing parts of the park we had not seen before.  We took two great hikes.  Got to see some wolves.  Hiked through the woods scared to death we would see a grizzly while also being  afraid we would not get to see one.  We did not see one on these outings - Rats!

We did hike a couple miles to a back-country geyser named "Lone Star".  The hike and ensuing 2 hour wait were well worth the effort.  The eruption was fantastic and lasted for almost 45 minutes.  Way longer and impressive than Old Faithful, which we visited earlier in the day.

I neglected to get pictures but here is a link that contains great information and pictures.


Leaving Wyoming - East Bound and Down

Our time in Wyoming came to an end on September 27th.  We headed out at a fast clip with our destination being Madison, South Dakota, where we maintain our legal domicile.  We needed to get our new license plates for the truck and trailer.

We had planned to leave on the 26th but there was a complication with a mail package we were waiting for so we delayed for a day.  Literally, not 30 minutes after we left we got a phone call from the post office in Cody, Wyoming.  The caller had our package in hand.  Turning around would have added 75 miles round trip and at least and hour or so.  We continued on our way.

We anticipated a beautiful drive through the Big Horn mountains but we were not prepared for what we saw.

We routed ourselves through the little town of Ten Sleep.  Wow!  It lies in one of the most beautiful mountain settings either of us have seen.  Had we not been in such a hurry we probably would have stayed a couple days to explore.  The area begged for pictures but alas, we had to press on.

I have to say that the new truck is a blast to drive.  It rides incredibly smooth and the big Cummins diesel loves to pull.  Hills and mountains don't phase it a bit.  I kept getting deja-vus of days past when Robin and I were a truck-driving team.  We spent many hours cruising with the diesel humming, the radio on and the miles slipping by...

We took care of business in South Dakota.  Next stop - Elkhart, Indiana to visit our motorhome and retrieve a few things to use in the camper.

We're happy with our choice of storage place to keep the motorhome until next May.  It is an enclosed, climate-controlled facility.  We do not have to be concerned with any weather related issues short of a tornado.  Our home is secure.

After Elkhart, we ran down to Indianapolis to visit our daughter, Jessica, for a couple days.  We had a ball with her.  We have not had an opportunity to spend a couple days alone with her in quite a while.  She is a neat gal and a lot of fun.  We are proud of her.

After visiting Jess we went north to see Robin's aunt and uncle, Glenna and Louis.  It is amazing to think that they are in their mid-90's!   They are in spectacular shape.  We can only hope to mimic their longevity and vitality.  Our visit was too short.  We will rectify that the next time we are in Indiana.

From there it was a short jaunt to Winchester, Indiana to see our daughter, Michelle, and our two grand kids, Shelby and Kaytlynn (Katie).

Shelby and her husband Curtis, have two kids: Jeremiah and Brettley (Yup - we are Great-Grandparents!).

Our time there was also too short but we had an appointment in Ohio.  We pressed onward.

Robin's step-mother, Martha, and step-sister, Lucinda, live in western Ohio.  We always try to see them when we are in that part of the country.  We really enjoy their company.  Lucinda's kids, Daniel and Christine, are a lot of fun.  She has done a great job with them.

Next stop - Columbus, Ohio to see an old friend and co-worker.  But wait - the National Museum of the US Air Force is in Dayton.  I had to stop.

One of the great things about the camper is that wherever we are, we are at home.  Robin was not interested in the museum, so she puttered around the house while I spent a day traversing the entire history of the Air Force.  Incredible.

I have often thought that had I not chosen to be a Marine I would have been and Airman.  I love airplanes.

This museum is a must-stop if you are ever in the Dayton, Ohio vicinity.  It is amazing and best of all, it is FREE!!!

Every model of Air Force plane I am aware of is there.  I stood next to a P51 Mustang:

A Sopwith Camel a la Snoopy, a full scale recreation of Orville and Wilbur Wrights plane.

I stood underneath the bomb bay of a B-52 - Sorry no pic of the actual bomb bay:

under the wing of a B2 stealth bomber (that thing is HUGE):

next to an SR-71 (sorry for the shakey pic - too excited I guess :) )

AND, I got to climb all over one of my favorites - an A-10 Warthog:

Those of you who know John O'Connell, this is what he used to fly.  Way to go John!!

These images barely scratch the surface of what all is there.  Again, if you are ever near Dayton, Ohio, do yourself a favor and tour this museum.  You won't be disappointed.

From Dayton to Columbus was a short hop.

We had a pleasant meal with an old friend and co-worker, Dan Samson, his wife Stacey and two sons, Nicholas and Reid.

It is always fun to see how Nicholas is growing up.  I look at him and remember it like it was yesterday when Dan would come to work and update us on Stacey's pregnancy and pending delivery.  Nick is now 13 YEARS OLD!!!!  Reid is doing well too.  It is amazing to me to think that these two boys are becoming young men.  Sheesh!

We're in North Carolina!

Our visiting done, we pointed the rig directly south.  The winds were incredible.  We literally blew into North Carolina on October 6th, a full day earlier than we had planned.  We are comfortably ensconced at Robin's parents' home in Weaverville, about 20 miles north of Asheville.

Besides being Robin's parents, Richard and Norma are some of the best friends we have ever had.  We love visiting with them.  Most of the time we forget that they are parents.  That is one of the best things about our relationship.  They do not parent any more.  They did a great job raising Robin and then letting her be her own woman.  Now we concentrate on being friends.

The Weaverville/Asheville area is in the Great Smokey Mountains, which is a subset of the Blue Ridge Mountains and all are a part of the Appalachians.

This fall was especially spectacular as the trees changed.  I don't recall ever seeing anything like it.  We were fortunate to arrive just prior to the peak Fall colors.  I've seen pictures of the Northeast in the Fall. It is hard to conceive anything better than what we have seen here!

Again, I have been a bit remiss in photos.  Here are some I hijacked from other sites on the Internet.  These photographers are better than me anyway.






Since we arrived, we have done a LOT of visiting with Richard and Norma and Robin's aunt, Margaret, who co-owns the property.  We've just about solved all the problems of the world!

We've done our share of eating out and sightseeing.  Robin and I are trying to curb our carbohydrate ingestion.  We could gain a BUNCH of weight if we don't watch out.

The weather has been terrific.  I get up every morning and sit in the porch swing with a cup of coffee and greet the day.  There are some cows in the field next to the houses.  I get a kick out of watching them start their days too.

Last week Robin and I drove north about 20 miles to Hot Springs, NC.  This is a major way point on the Appalachian Trail.  We have talked and day-dreamed about hiking the AT over the years.  We have known a few people who have done the entire 2200 mile trek.  We've read a number of stories too.  Probably the most famous chronicle is the book "A Walk In the Woods" by Bill Bryson.

It was kind of surreal to finally be walking on a portion of the same trail we have vicariously traveled in the past.  We hope to spend more time on it before we leave.  Alas, I do not see us ever doing a though-hike, but you never know...

We also took a day trip to Knoxville, TN to visit friends Phil and Dixie Bopp.  Phil has been a friend of Richard and Norma's since before neither Robin nor I existed.  They met while serving in the Air Force in the early 50's.

Phil and Dixie recently bought a new home.  This was our first opportunity to see it.  They also have a new bundle of energy.  I think it is a dog but it was always moving so fast I could not get a good look.  It may have been a meteorite!

Buddy is a cute Silky Terrier.  He sure does have a LOT of energy.  He keeps them on their toes.

Phil is also quite the wood carver.  Talking to him revived my carving interest. It will be a while before I am even close to as good as he is.

They treated us to lunch where I proceeded to make a pig of myself with Dixie's banana pudding.  She has a great way of preparing it that I want to share.

She makes the pudding and adds sour cream.  She does NOT add the bananas or Vanilla Wafers until she is ready to serve it.  That way the bananas do not get old in the fridge and the VWs don't get soggy.  What a simple yet great idea.

I could have eaten more but I was aware of the five pairs of eyes watching and growing wider with each mouthful.  What?  What?  OK... I'm finished.

One afternoon we took our bicycles into Weaverville to tour the town.  Did I mention that we are in the Great Smokey Mountains?  I bet I forgot to to emphasize "MOUNTAINS".  This is unbelievably hilly country.  The hilly terrain mandates that the roads be very narrow.  Combine that with a lot of traffic and it is not a fun place to ride bicycles.  We will concentrate on the multitude of hiking trails instead.

The Blue Ridge Parkway passes through here.  The scenery is fantastic.  If you have ever seen the movie "The Last of the Mohicans", this is where they filmed the magnificent scenery.  Everywhere you turn there is something splendid to see.  This area is much different from the rugged Rocky Mountains, but equally as spectacular in its own right.

We've been here for nigh on five weeks.  We plan to stay until after Thanksgiving.  Jessica is going to come up and spend the holiday.

That pretty well brings us up to date.

Stay tuned as we continue "Chasin' our Dreams!"

Friday, September 2, 2011

Back North in Cody, WY.

From Kevin:
Here it is!! Our new tiny home.


These have been busy but unexciting days. We took the camper to the manufacturer in Longmont, CO on Wednesday. They did some work on the riser mechanics. The top raises and lowers better than ever. Robin says she can raise it without any squealing on her or the camper's part!

The builder also discovered an issue with the refrigerator venting. They fixed that and we had to move the temp a bit higher due to things freezing. We did learn that carrots can successfully be frozen and thawed without losing their flavor. I wonder if snowshoe hares know this?

No charge for the refer vent fix.  While raising the camper to load back onto the truck, the controller for the legs that jack up the entire camper (not the roof we had originally had repaired) stopped working.  Outfitter jumped right on it and determined that the cord between the hand-held controller and the camper was bad. They replaced the cord, no charge.

It was a bit of a three ring circus as Robin and I worked on backing up the truck to load the camper.  Outfitter came to the rescue again.  One shot and Bob had the truck under the camper.

We are very happy with the work done by Outfitter.  Besides building a great camper, their service work was excellent, on time and they honored their quote, even with the extras.

Prior to taking the camper to the manufacturer we had the hitch extender modified by a local welder/hitch shop in Cheyenne. I always try to post our service experiences whether they are good or bad. Fortunately, most have been good. The hitch modification results are good but I was pretty miffed by the shop, Doolittle Hitch and Wiring.

When I spoke to the shop on the phone we agreed to meet on Saturday morning at 8:00. We were going to discuss the job and if agreed, do it. We arrived shortly before 8:00 and sat, and sat, and sat. Finally, after repeated phone calls I was able to reach Dan. He said he was on his way. He showed up at 9:15.

We agreed to the work to be done and had an verbal estimate of $150.00. This was to weld a piece of heavy metal to the extension, drill 4 holes for turnbuckle attachments and then weld on two nuts to allow for locking bolts to hold the ball receiver tightly in place.  The shop would supply the turnbuckle assemblies.

Not a lot of work for $150 but I know welding does not come cheap. Dan said it would be finished Saturday afternoon or first thing on Monday.

Monday came with no word.

Tuesday morning I tried to call. Got a message that the phone was temporarily disconnected. WHAT???? We want to leave on Thursday morning. We cannot pull the trailer without the hitch extension. What is going on???

I had Dan's home phone. I left a message saying we needed to talk. That we could work together if there was trouble but I NEED the extension back in order to leave.

A little while later I got a phone call. There was work being done on the phone lines. All was well and the job is complete. Great. We'll be right there.

We get there and the job looks great. One piece of metal welded with 4 holes drilled, the necessary turnbuckle parts plus the two nuts and locking bolts in place.

$206.00!!!! WHAT? You quoted $150 and it is a day late. Let's work on this.

NOPE. He stuck with $206. 00. We left on unhappy terms.

Later that day we went to D's 4 Wheel Drive to get a rubber floor mat for the pickup bed. I asked if they do welding.

Yup.

Take a look at this. What do you think this would have cost?

Maybe $100.

Grrrrrr.

If you need welding work done - Think about our experience if you are inclined to hire Doolittle Hitch & Wiring in Cheyenne, WY.

Thursday morning we loaded up everything and headed back north to Cody,WY, to my sister and b-i-l's place. The camper rode fine and the trailer is towing great. We hit strong headwinds immediately north of Cheyenne and it really blew all the way to Cody.

Just south of Chugwater, WY, on I-25, we noticed a truck pulling a 5th wheel trailer going the opposite direction. Their awning had come unfurled. The arms were extended and the fabric was ripped off the frame and flapping in the wind. They were going highway speed and obviously had no idea there was a problem. We felt bad for the surprise headed their way. We've heard of awnings coming apart while towing but we had never seen it. Hope the damages were not too bad.

Other than the wind, the drive back to Cody was uneventful. Things sure have dried out in these past couple weeks. The prairies are not nearly as green as they were when we came down.

We got to Cody in the late evening. Got all set up, visited for a short time and hit the rack.

Sheesh! It got down to 38 degrees last night. We used our sleeping bags under the covers of the bed. Slept pretty good tho - Sorry, Texas friends - Hang in there. The heat has to end.

This morning we helped my sister and b-i-l do some work to the back deck. That was about it.

Not too exciting, but some days are like that when we are "Chasin' Our Dreams!"

Monday, August 29, 2011

Catching Up On Wyoming

From Kevin:
Whew! - Where to start on catching up? We have been in Wyoming since the second week in July. Robin says that she could tell when we were approaching the state because she saw a big grin begin on my face. She says it grew bigger the closer we got.  Wyoming is where I grew up.  I left right after high school and joined the Marines.  I did return for a while after that but Robin and I moved to Austin, TX in 1993.  We have visited a few times but it has been a LONG time since we were able to spend any amount of time.


Our first stop was Devil's Tower. Neither of us had seen it before. It was remarkable. I can see how the Native Americans (Indians) considered it a sacred place. We were awed.

We wanted to hike around the perimeter but it was so hot we opted to just tour the Visitors' Center and be on our way. Here are a few pics from the Visitors' Center and on the road.




From there we headed directly west with Cody as our destination. We overnighted in Sheridan which lies at the Eastern base of the Big Horn mountains. We got to visit with a friend who I had worked with at UPS about a hundred years ago.

Carl and his bride of a few decades, Joyce, are doing great. It is amazing how some folks don't change. (Carl, your hair has always been that color, right?!).

We hit Sheridan on the day the "Tour de Wyoming" bicycle tour passed through. We talked to a couple riders. It is an organized 300 mile loop of central Wyoming. It starts out on the plains and then crosses over the Big Horn mountains TWICE. We drove over those mountains and are amazed to think of riding them twice. The tour offers a neat riding jersey that says "It's just a mountain - Get over it!" Very clever.

When we reached the top of the Big Horns we stopped at the Burgess Junction Visitor Center.  This is a National Park facility. It lies at 7950 feet altitude.

While we were there, along came two guys on bicycles loaded with touring equipment. We met Andrew and Nate, brothers spending the summer traveling across the country on their bicycles. They were fun to visit with. We found their tour blog and have followed them to the end of their ride at the Atlantic coast. Wow!

From the visitor center to Cody was a pleasant jaunt. We were excited to reach my sister's place.

Demity and John retired a few years ago. Cody won hands down as their retirement destination. It is 50 miles from the East entrance to Yellowstone. Within a 50 mile radius of Cody you find almost every type of non-tropical ecosystem you can imagine PLUS Yellowstone.

We are fortunate to have our relationship with Demity and John. They are a perfect blend of outdoors and cosmopolitan lifestyles. John spent his entire career with the Wyoming Game and Fish. He even wrote a book on fishing Wyoming waters. If you want to know anything about fishing, especially fly fishing in Wyoming, John is your man. He led us on some great hikes. Demity loves the outdoors but her real talent is decorating their wonderful home and yard. She also finds time to work at the Buffalo Bill Historical Museum. Their knowledge of the Cody area is incredible. We did a bunch of great drives with both Dem and John and a couple with Dem alone while John ministered to his no-fishing withdrawals. They are a lot of fun to play with.

We have been doing a lot of sightseeing and hiking in the area. The vistas we have seen are so spectacular that I opted to NOT take pictures as they just would not do it justice. In retrospect, when we return I am going to go take pics as they will convey at least of a bit of this amazing area. Stay tuned.

We have been into Yellowstone three times. Each time we saw something different. We've seen three moose, numerous bison (buffalo), many elk and deer and an eagle. Lots of squirrels and small critters. So far the highlight has been our first grizzly! It was about 200 yards away foraging and messing around under a large tree. My camera could not capture it at that distance. Rats.

It was a blondish color. I can see how people get in trouble with them. It looked just like a huge stuffed toy. It's hair looked so soft and beautiful I could imagine hugging it. Not a smart thing to do.

Yellowstone has gotten a phenomenal amount of rain this year.  The meadows and fields are bright green and the wildflowers are incredible.  We are fortunate to have been able to see it in this condition as it may never happen again, or it may be the new climate situation, regardless, we have been thrilled:


We also got to spend some time with our good friends Karen and Charley. We were RV neighbors in Texas. They spent the last two summers working in Yellowstone. They gave us a great tour of the park plus the Grand Tetons. Incredible. Also, they encouraged us to apply for summer positions in the park for next year. They even went so far as to introduce us to the manager of the store we would be working in. He did not turn and run so we took that as a good sign. Wow, think about it. Next summer we could be getting paid to live and work in Yellowstone. Doesn’t get much better than that! Wish us luck.

We have done a number of hikes in bear country. We carry bear spray and hang “bear bells” from our packs. The idea is that most bad bear encounters are the result of surprising the bear who then attacks in self defense. Hikers are advised to make noise to let the bears know they are approaching. The bears will leave if they are sufficiently warned. It sounds like Christmas as we walk along.

One interesting thing we have learned is how to identify scat. Deer and elk is readily obvious. They look like large Milk Duds. Bears are a bit harder. The best way to identify Grizzly scat is to look closely and smell it. If you see bells and smell bear spray, you can be pretty sure it is Grizzly!

One fun hike we did a few times is up Cedar Mountain which lies on the outskirts of Cody. It is quite challenging as it gains about 2500 feet in altitude in approximately 4.5 miles. The altitude gains are pretty hard on us sea-levelers but we are concentrating on deep breathing and drinking LOTS of water. We did it halfway a couple times and then did the whole thing once.  Here is a pic of Robin at the halfway point:


We spent three weeks in the Cody area before heading down to Durango, CO for a big surprise. Are you ready for this????

We decided to downsize even further from our 37 foot long motorhome to a pick-up camper. We are now living in about 85 square feet of space. AND LOVING IT!!!

We traded the Prius for a 2011 Dodge Ram one-ton pickup. We found a 2005 Outfitter Apex 9.5 pop-up camper in Durango, CO on Craigslist. It is a huge compromise in space but the versatility these afford us for access to virtually anywhere is worth it. We’ve been in it for almost two weeks and find ourselves not wanting for anything other than our clothes washer and dryer. Using laundromats has always been something we do not enjoy but I gotta tell you, when I was single I sure met some interesting ladies there!! Robin reports seeing some weird guys hanging around them when she was single. Am I getting a message?

“What about all your crap?” you ask. Well, we bought a gently used Haulmark 5x8 foot cargo trailer. It perfectly houses a number of storage bins as well as our bicycles and other miscellaneous items.

The motorhome will remain in storage in Elkhart, IN. We do not want to goof up and sell it just to find out we want to return to the larger rig. We feel secure knowing we have that option.

On the way back north we stopped in Boulder, CO to visit Robin’s brother and sister-in-law, Doug and Pat. I could fill pages with how interesting and great these two are. They both retired from glowing careers as wildland forest fire firefighters and fire management experts. They are still in demand as consultants. The stories they tell of flying over forest fires in helicopters and planes are spine tingling. Their firefighting careers were a perfect marriage between their environmental knowledge and vast experiences in the outdoors as campers, hikers and wilderness-knowledge gatherers. When I say “knowledge gatherers” I mean “KNOWLEDGE GATHERERS.” To hike with them is to be immersed in an encyclopedic amount of facts and information on all aspects of flora, fauna and geology. I could go on and on.

After leaving Doug and Pat, we headed to Cheyenne. As usual, with any used vehicle, there are some items with the camper we want to have addressed. We are currently in Cheyenne camped out at my parent’s house. The issues will be addressed this week. The camper needs some work on the roof-raising system. We will go to the Outfitter factory in Longmont, CO Wednesday morning for that.

We are having the trailer hitch extension modified by a local trailer expert here in Cheyenne. Because the camper extends beyond the end of the pickup bed, we must use a hitch extension. There is a lot of play between the original hitch attachment point on the truck and the extender and the trailer ball unit. This looseness results in significant bucking between the trailer and the truck. It made for an uncomfortable ride. Also, I am concerned that something could break. I’ve actually had a trailer come loose while going down the highway. Not fun and the damage to the tow vehicle was a lot because the tongue of the trailer came forward and hit the tow vehicle. Thank God for safety chains! Anyway, I never want to experience that again.

Attending these issues has afforded us time to spend with my brother, Max, and his fun wife, Yvette. A interesting side note is that Max and Yvette met in El Paso, TX when Max was in the Army. Yvette still has family in Texas with one sibling in San Marcos, which is about 20 miles south of Austin! Small world.

Max and Yvette are way more town oriented than the other family members I’ve described. Max manages an insurance agency and Yvette is the assistant manager for a local credit union branch. I don’t think there is a civic board in town that Max does not sit on. I don’t know how he does it. We also had a lot of fun listening to him co-host a call-in car show on a local radio station. The fun part was that the normal host was out of town. Max does a great job of starting his car but that is about the extent of his mechanical knowledge. The show was a hoot!

Yvette keeps the grass at the local softball fields well worn. She is quite the ball player. Her team won the championship a while back. I guess there are serious competition seasons and some lesser more fun oriented seasons. Right now she is playing with the “get out there and laugh” crowd rather than her normal “get out there and win” crowd. She loves both.

Friday evening Max and Yvette introduced us to Cheyenne’s “Fridays on the Plaza” event. What a lot of fun. It is a weekly get together of the local folks. I was surprised to see all ages from tykes to geezers to the most-senior-set all in one gathering. Everyone was having a grand time with live music and LOTS of visiting. We saw a number of people we had not seen in 20+ years. We will certainly partake again when we are in town. It has been so successful that other cities have begun sending delegations to learn how the town entices such a mixed and pleasant crowd. Way to go Cheyenne!!!

After everything is finished on Wednesday (keep your fingers crossed) we will head back to Cody for the remainder of September - then east to North Carolina for the winter.

One thing we are looking forward to is our 28th anniversary near the end of September. We honeymooned at Yellowstone in 1983. One of our most memorable things was a spectacular dinner at the Yellowstone Lake Hotel. We hope their menu has something equally scrumptious these 28 years later. I’ll let you know.

That’s about it in a nutshell for the past month. Since we are heading back to Cody and will be repeating some of our earlier activities, I will concentrate on more pics.

Stay tuned as we continue Chasin’ Our Dreams!!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

From Kevin - Wisconsin - Minnesota - South Dakota - Recap

Has it really been 12 days since my last post?  Sheesh.  We have been having so much fun and going so hard that I just have not had time for updating.  Not a good excuse, sorry....

When we last talked we had worked our way through Minnesota and were headed toward South Dakota.  We really did not do anything special in either Wisconsin or Minnesota, just traveled.   I do want to share our awe with the countryside.  Neither Robin nor I recollect each state being so beautiful.  Twenty-some years ago our travels through this area were in the cab of a semi-truck rather than family auto.  We were always too tired to take time to smell the roses or the livestock.

We have been blown away by the current green-ness.  There has been so much rain this year that the fields and prairies are beyond description. Sorry to all our Texas friends as they swelter and dry up :(

We feel fortunate that we are getting to see it in such a state of green.  It may happen again next year, but statistically, this could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see it this way.

I took a few pictures.  Hopefully, they will convey some of what I am unable to adequately describe...

This is what we have been seeing all the way across from Indiana, through Illinois and across Minnesota and Wisconsin.  The farms are beautiful.  I hope the increased moisture does not make it impossible for the farmers to get their crops properly dried for harvest.

Another thing we are seeing along the byways are hundreds and hundreds of wind generators.  These are kind of pretty in their own way.  The fact that we are finally taking advantage of the winds to generate power adds to their attractiveness.

Hmmm - I wonder when this free power will translate to lower utility bills?

South Dakota - We are tourists!
We crossed Minnesota and entered South Dakota.  Again, referring to our aforementioned life, we passed through here many times many years ago.  We saw it through the windshield of our 18 wheeler.  We knew it was a great state but never explored further.

Our first stop was Sioux Falls.  What a neat city!  We were thoroughly impressed.  Pardon me if I frequently repeat that phrase.  We are finding "thoroughly impressed" fitting for so many of the places we are seeing and experiencing.  The neat thing about words is that you cannot wear them out.  OK, ok. Everyone who knows me knows that I really do try to wear some out.  I've seen your eyes glaze over.

There really are falls in the city.  Usually they are docile and serene.  With the huge amounts of rain of late they are anything but docile.  Here are some pics:



I don't know if this fella is running from me, the camera or the falls.  I did shower that morning...
A while back there was a quarry developed here for a source of stone to build a prison facility.  The prisoners were a (willing???) source of labor.  They manually extracted the stone and moved it quite a ways vertically until it cleared the quarry depths.  Then it was in position to work further to form the prison walls and buildings.  I cannot imagine that kind of back breaking work.

There was once a huge grain mill located at the falls.  With the supposedly unlimited supply of power to run the operation, the "Queen Bee Mill" was designed to process 1200 barrels of flour per day.  That was about 4 times the typical Midwestern mill output.  One problem - remember those docile and serene falls I mentioned?  Seems they ended up being so docile and serene there was not enough flow to run a mill this large.  Sooooo.  It was sold a number of times and finally abandoned.  Who knows how much was lost over the years in trying to turn a profit.

Only the rock walls of the main building remain.  They offer some interesting photographic opportunity:
We intended to stop in South Dakota and get new driver's licenses.  You may recall (you did go back and read the entire blog didn't you?) that we changed our legal residence from Texas to South Dakota.  That means new driver's licenses.  My great trip planning skills came into play and we hit SD on a Friday.  I forgot that one must show proof of having spent one night in SD before qualifying as a resident.  That means we needed to spend Friday night.  Guess what?  Those government employees have the WEEKENDS OFF!!  And, many of the driver's license offices are open only one day per week.  Readers, you do know that I am a retired State of Texas employee don't you.  I mean, yeah, I had to have my weekends off, but golly, why can't those SD folks be there at my beck and call?

Anyway, we also found out that we need our official birth certificates.  And, the party of the duo who is of the female persuasion must produce her entire marriage history.  Hmmmm.  I really messed up.  I normally run around with my entire family background and history in my pocket; just in case I run into someone in need of a long snooze, but danged if I did not go off and forget it this time.  Rats.

Anyway, needless to say, we moved on from Sioux Falls still disguised as Texan drivers.  What a great city.  We agreed it is a possible destination when (or if) we ever decide to stop traveling.  The winters can be a bit on the chilly side we hear.

We had to hit all the touristy stuff.  We went over to Wall, SD.  You know it.  You've seen all the bumper stickers announcing that travelers have been to Wall Drug.  You can get a free glass of ice water.  A cup of coffee is a nickel.  That was an advertising ploy used some 50+ years ago to lure travelers off the road.  It worked and the rest is history.  This is one HUGE tourist trap.  We walked around and looked but did not buy anything.  Heck, we could not even find the free ice water or the nickel coffee. But, you know what?  We now have been to Wall Drug.  Yay!!!  No pics.

We spent the night in the town of Wall, SD.  We wanted to visit the South Dakota badlands and Wall offers a good stepping off point.

Bad Lands - Wow!
Directly south from Wall, SD lie the Bad Lands aka. Badlands National Park.  WOW!, even all-caps does not begin to describe it.  You can get an inkling of them from the interstate but if you ever have the time you must stop and visit this national treasure.

Shortly after passing through the Pinnacles Entrance we saw the "Sage Creek Rim Road" off to the right.  We were in our Prius and were a bit leery about a dirt road.  We are certainly glad we went.  In our opinion this was the most scenic part of the park.  It is easily navigable in a "regular" car.  We saw a lot of RVs and cars.

The road winds through the prairie for a short distance.  You see rolling grasslands like those depicted in the movie "Dances With Wolves".  We parked at the first viewing pull-off and OMG! (I hate that phrase, but is most appropriate here).  We walked to the edge of a drop off and were greeted with sheer walls a few hundred feet straight down.  The expanse went for miles.  Unbelievable.

I am seldom without words but I was actually dumbstruck when we walked up the edge and looked over. I could not say much of anything for a few moments. I will not even try to describe it. My pictures do not begin to do justice.

A Scary Moment - The sheer drop off is not obvious from the road.  While we were standing there a youngster of about 3 years came running at full speed.  He ran right up next to our spot and then SLIPPPED!  Had Robin's nursely, no, motherly, no, grandmotherly, no, great-grandmotherly, oh whatever, instincts not triggered and she grabbed him, he could have gone right over.  The parents were not concerned when we relayed the incident.  Please, please, please do not let kids run ahead into unknown territory.  Save that for more metaphoric situations.

The bottom lands were brilliant green from all the moisture.  The rock walls and formations were mostly white.  Spectacular barely scratches the surface.  It was breathtaking.  I'll post a few pics but believe me, they don't even begin to do justice.

Approaching the edge:

Looking over the edge:
Now these are Bad Lands:

Talk About A Small World - We stopped at the  main visitor center, gift shop, cafe, way station etc., after a long drive around the perimeter of the park.  We had ordered our food and Robin had stepped away for a few moments.  I saw a woman walk through the cafe who looked familiar.  I did a second-take and was certain we knew her.  I stalked her to the gift shop to get a better look.  I was sure it was someone we knew from Texas.

Robin returned and I asked if she had seen anyone familiar looking.  Nope.

I walked out to the front desk and caught her attention.  Sure enough, it was Barbara from Austin.  I said "Hi!" and we both were surprised at the coincidence of meeting out here of all places.

She and her husband, Jersey, are "Work Campers" and had worked a stint at the RV park in Austin, where we lived.  Jersey is a great cook.  He did a terrific job in the RV park cafe and is now the head chef at the cafe in the Badlands.  Barbara worked the front desk doing reservations and customer service in Austin.  She is doing the same in the Badlands.

Barbara came to our table for a brief visit.  Unfortunately, Jersey was off that day and unavailable for a visit.  Sure would have been fun to see him. Who knows, maybe we'll run into them somewhere else.  What a small world!

I tried the stalking thing with a cute 20 something but she just scowled when I got to the "don't I know you" part.  Man, was her boyfriend BIG!
 
Mitchell, SD - What A Corny Place:
After leaving the Bad Lands we headed west toward Mitchell, SD.  Home of the world famous Corn Palace.  We've heard of it for a long time.  We've even seen it a number of times on television travel shows, but we had never seen it live and in person.  We had to see it.

It is a venue for all sorts of entertainment.  It's claim to fame is that the facade is decorated with corn and other agricultural products.  Kind of neat and a bit corny...
Another shot giving a little bit better detail of the corn fed facade:

Speaking of corny:

It was so blasted hot that we did not tarry.  Our visit was as short as this entry describing it.  Fun to see but now "been there, done that."   Clark Griswold would have been proud!

Mt. Rushmore - Incredible but...
We got over to the Black Hills area near Rapid City, South Dakota.  We wanted to see Mt. Rushmore.  A long time ago we had gone to see it while we were laying-over on a truck load.  This was around 1987.  We got to the parking lot with our semi-tractor but the fog was so thick we could not see the monument.  We vowed to come back.  This was our opportunity to pull an Arnold and fulfill our commitment to "be bock".

Things are a bit different now.  This is a national monument that had been stressed to us a couple times by visitor centers as being "free" BUT, the parking is $11.  We ain't paying to park to see a "free" monument.  Sheesh.

We drove up to the monument entrance.  The cars were lined up 5 or 6 wide and 5 or so deep.  It was really hot.  We could see the monument over the entrance.  People were milling about and it was REALLY HOT!

We wondered what was the point of paying $11 to mill about among a few thousand of our new BFFs in this REALLY HOT heat.  Sooooo.  We pulled up to the booth and told the girl we had changed our mind and wanted to turn around.  Apparently, this is not an uncommon thing.  She was very nice as she explained how we could find the turnaround spot and exit the park.  We did that and bid farewell to all our new and very close friends.  It was so HOT!

We had seen all we needed to.  We headed down the road when low and behold, a turnout appeared offering an interesting profile shot:

I'm not sure that I don't like this better than the others showing the standard full face shot of all of 'em.  It would be kind of neat to try to get some other angles and views.  Maybe some time when it is not so dang HOT!

We left Mt. Rushmore and headed to the Crazy Horse Memorial.  Again we were met with a great view at the entrance and a hand asking for $27 to get in.  No thanks, the pics on the internet are free.  We've seen enough.  Did not even take a picture.

We later read about speculation that Chief Crazy Horse may have not appreciated the manipulation of a grand mountain for the development of a likeness of himself.  He may have rather had the area preserved in its natural state.  Who knows.  It is a overwhelming project.  Perhaps too grand.  I don't see how the family that is now working on it will ever finish.  It is a HUGE project.  Nearly as huge as the HOT temps while we were there.

We finished up South Dakota with an overnight stay in Sturgis, home of the famous Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.  There are a few weeks left until the rally so we only saw preparations.  It is amazing to think that about 100,000 motorcyclists will converge into this little community for a few weeks of craziness.  Looks like it could be fun, but not our kind of thing.

That evening we drove over to Deadwood and Lead.  We wanted to check out the Mickelson Bike Trail.  A 109 mile Rails to Trails route through South Dakota.  We were daunted by the 17% grade between Deadwood and Lead.  A great challenge and we hope to return and conquer it some day, just not now.  We ain't ready for 17%, nope, not now - did I mention it was HOT there?

We moved on toward Wyoming.  Can't wait to get there for another life's episode as we are Chasin' Our Dreams...

Saturday, July 16, 2011

We're On the Move Again!

We're finally on the move again!  Yay!!  We were in Goshen/Elkhart, Indiana a full three weeks.  That was a week longer than what we planned.  It sure feels good to be moving - but we are doing it a bit differently this time.   No pics today as we are in highway mode.

Thursday morning we packed up the RV and took it to a storage facility in Elkhart.  "What the heck was that about?" you ask.  Well, we are car-tripping to Wyoming and Colorado to visit family and friends.  Because we have friends and family we can mooch off of, we decided to leave the rig in Indiana and save LOT$ of $$$ by driving.

The RV gets around 7 mpg.  At close to $4/gal for gas, it costs about 50 cents per mile to drive.  It is a minimum of 1400 miles each way, so for easy calculations it would cost about $1400 in gas alone to go out there.  By the time you add RV park fees etc. and the fact that we have a Prius (can you say 50mpg?) it was a no brainer to leave it and take the car.  And, we are taking advantage of the no-rig opportunity to work on our tent camping skills.  Those skills we be in constant improvement mode as we have only tent camped once and that was at least 20 years ago.  It only seems fair that we get free camping at the various campgrounds along the way since we will be providing the evening's entertainment.  Lucy and Desi had nothing on us...

Speaking of tent camping, let me take a few moments to expound on Robin's comment regarding REI.  That is one fine company.  I did not ask for, nor anticipate any sort of compensation when I called them regarding the tent poles that were incorrect and/or missing in the tent we bought over a year and a half ago at one of their local "garage sales".  REI is very upfront at these sales that all sales are "as is" and final.

We did not even try to erect the tent until a week or so ago.  We had no idea that it was incomplete.  The tags from the sale said that it had only one blemish, and I quote - "Demo- Don't sell.  Kid peed in it."

At the sale they reassured us that it had been thoroughly cleaned so we were not concerned with that, and it was good fodder for conversation anyway.  So we bought it and went on our merry way.  Our original need for it did not come together so we never set it up and so remained unknowing of it's issues.

Flash forward to a couple weeks ago.  When we decided to take the car tip west we decided to see if we could set it up without killing each other.  It immediately became clear that something was amiss.  BTW- we got along just fine - neither party was injured in the attempted erection of said tent.

REI does not do their own pole repairs or replacement.  They refer you to another vendor, Tentpole Technologies, who handle all the polish dirty work.

I talked to TPT and was guided to order a specific pole.  We wanted it quick so I paid an additional $10 in shipping to get it to us in two days.  Two days later we had it - the wrong pole!!!  Sheesh.  To say we were a bit miffed is putting it mildly.

The ensuing calls to TPT to resolve the problem ended up with neither of us knowing exactly which poles were needed.  This was because I had never seen a complete version of the tent and TPT's expertise left me a bit wanting...  So, I decided to call REI to get their official readout on the exact model of tent and exactly what poles were needed.

REI was great.  They patiently walked me through the steps to identify which model of tent we have and exactly which poles are required.  Together, REI and I determined what was needed.  I was shocked when they offered to reimburse us the cost - remember this was purchased "as is" and final a year and a half ago.

I actually talked to the guy in the Austin store who originally cleaned the gift left by an still-unknown child.  He laughed as he recalled the situation.  He said that he knew that it was complete at that time but he also knows that during their garage sales people do a lot of picking through and assembling things from like models.  So, having said that and also because we did pay a pretty penny for the tent, he felt he should make us whole!   As I write this there is an REI gift card winging its way to my sister's house in Cody, Wyoming.  I am sure we will put it too good use.

Meanwhile, back at TPT:  With my new-found expertise in all things polish, I got the proper poles ordered and on their way.  I was miffed a bit again as TPT would only split the new-second-day-air shipping rather than footing it all.  Remember, the original purchase was based on their so-called expertise.   Had I not been so elated with REI's outstanding customer service I may have pushed it, but overall, we are way further ahead than I had expected.  The incorrect pole is on it's way back to TPT - snail mail - cheapest and slowest possible.

So far the trip from Indiana to Wyoming has been interesting to say the least.  I routed us along Interstate 90 through Chicago.  I had no idea what an ordeal it was to creep along their expressway, stopping periodically to pay the toll takers for the privilege of spending three hours of stopping-and-going until the skyline was in our rear view mirror.  I'll gladly drive 200 miles extra to route us away from that mess if we ever pass near there again.   Our way back to pick up the RV will take us the southern route on Interstate 70 from Colorado.  I've already made sure we do not get caught a second time.

Traveling on the highways together in one vehicle has been fun.  Driving separately, Robin with the car and me in the RV is not fun for us.  The Prius cannot be towed "four-down" which means all tires on the ground.  This is do to the unique hybrid drive train.  We have opted to NOT buy a tow dolly just yet.  We want to know more about our travel habits before making that commitment

We stopped last night in Edgerton, Wisconsin.  A neat little town not too far from Madison.  We did not do much other than lounge around the hotel.  Nothing of note to report.

We left this morning and headed to Home Depot to get some bungie cords and velcro strips so I can better secure the bicycles to the rack.  That took some time but the end result is two bikes riding comfortably and secure without banging together and causing damage.

This afternoon the fun began.  We were in south east Minnesota when we ran into an incredible rain storm.  For a while it was coming down so hard that all the vehicles had their hazards going and slowed to around 30mph.  I was still not feeling too secure so we pulled off at the next rest area to wait it out.

Guess what!!   Minnesota is shut down!   Their leaders have not resolved their budget so the entire state government has been shut down for two weeks.  No rest areas, no state parks, and even more important, employees are off.  I must assume that no child support payments as well as other forms of aid are being made too.  BTW - I did hear that the legislators passed a provision so THEY WILL BE PAID!!  I have not verified this so I'll leave it at that.....

So rather than being at a rest area, we stopped on the exit ramp of said rest area.  I figured that would be the safest spot to sit as there were barricades blocking access in or out.  We sat there about 30 minutes before it let up enough to proceed.

We listened to the radio as they talked about man-hole covers being blown off sewers in Rochester, MN.  There was also a lot of power outages and the like in the area.

We were going to stop in Austin, MN for the night but as we approached the exit ramp to town, the through traffic was stopped in both directions on the interstate.  Fortunately, we took the exit and missed the mess,  Apparently there was so much high water on the interstate it had been shut down.  We meandered our way in a westerly direction hoping to hook up with the interstate and move on.  We had decided that it was too early to stop.  Apparently the authorities came to the same detour conclusion as we did because just as we were about five vehicles from our turn out of the mess, here came all the detoured vehicles from the interstate.  We ended up waiting a bit of time as the cops directed the traffic through town.  It was not too bad tho and we were kind of impressed with ourselves for having come up with the route on our own.  I must insert here that our friend Tom-Tom was driving me crazy as he repeatedly told me to "turn right and then turn right again"  Tom, would you just shut up as it is clear that neither of us knows where are going at the moment.

Anyway, we continued on down the road and are safely bedded down for the night in Jackson, MN.  We have only 73 more miles left in Minnesota.  Next is South Dakota where we will be in full-blown-tourist mode for the next few days - Mt. Rushmore, Crazy Horse monument, SD Badlands and who knows what else.

We are having a ball and hope you enjoy traveling along as we continue Chasin' Our Dreams.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

From Robin:
It has been such a beautiful day!  The temperatures have been a little lower today and it looks like we may be able to sleep with the windows open tonight.  We did have to use the A/C this afternoon but this evening we're just using the Fantastic Fan. 

This morning we toured the Newmar factory.  It was very interesting and we were impressed with the tour as well as the tour giver.  The factory was well run, very organized as was the tour and we came away with the impression of a very good product.  I can't say it was better than Carriage.  The quality seemed pretty equal between the two.  We were very disappointed with the quality of the Monaco/Holiday Rambler and the tour we got at that factory yesterday.  We have always like Monaco too so we were surprised.  We actually didn't see them building Monacos.  The tour guide showed us some of the towables and was not able to answer any of our questions.  This week and last week a lot of the factories were not in production because of the holiday. 

We are now getting ready for our trip to Wyoming.  Getting things ready to be loaded into the car.  We got the tent poles we needed for our bigger tent today so put it up to make sure everything was in order.  It went up beautifully and we were happy with the ease of putting it up and the size.  Didn't think about taking pictures while it was up but will post some later.  We sure have been impressed with REI.  We bought this tent at one of their garage sales.  This was a floor model that a kid had peed in and so was discounted.  We knew they would have cleaned it and we were not really worried.  At the garage sales there is a no return policy and that was a little daunting but it also said satisfaction gaurenteed.  I wasn't sure what that meant exactly but it made me feel a little better.  We bought this tent to use at Mustang Island at Christmas in 2009.  We decided instead to take the motorhome, which turned out to be a good thing.  So didn't even try putting it up until we started planning this trip.  We are planning to camp on the way to Wyoming so thought we had better try putting the tent up to see how hard that would be.  I'm glad we did because we found that we didn't have the right tent poles.  Kevin called REI and sure enough, they came through for us.  They really mean it when they say "satisfaction gaurenteed".  They told us what tent poles we needed and told us to go ahead and order them then they would reimberse us.  Our respect for the REI company escalated since we didn't expect anything based on the time lapse since we got it and the fact that we bought it in their garage sale. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Still in Goshen

From Robin: 
Still in Goshen.  Yes, we are still here.  Kevin had yet another surgery for kidney stones on the 6th of July.  He has since been given the okay to do whatever he feels like doing including moving on.  Yeah!  We do like it here in Goshen and have met some really good people but are anxious to head on to Wyoming.  Besides getting to see family and friends in Wyoming and Colorado, we are hoping it is a little less warm and humid there.
After being given the okay to do whatever he wanted, we immediately took to the trails on our bikes.  We didn't do as many miles for our first post surgery outing.  Just testing the waters.  We did 18 miles with no ill effects.  I think he is finally back to normal.  Kevin took some good pictures on our bike ride.  I will let him post them.

From Kevin:
Yup - what she said. We are still in Goshen. The medical thing was a nightmare. I have to borrow a word from another blog: "Sheesh!" Anyway, all is well and we are back to our normal craziness.
In the future, both Robin and I will be posting here. We will mark our contributions with our name to make it easier to keep track of whomever's opinion may be being thrust upon you. Up til now I just put what I was allowed to...

Here is a brief recap of our activities in the past couple weeks, minus any continued sniveling on my part.

LAST WEEK we visited the RV Hall of Fame and Museum in Elkhart. We had read about it on the Escapees forum and other RVer's blogs. With RVing being such a niche in our country, I think they have done an excellent job or preserving and presenting a great variety of vintage, unusual and important examples of RVing's history.
Our favorite was the 1931 Ford Model AA Housecar. We named it the "Pulaski" (locally pronounced puh-LASK-eye):

 The interior was incredible. Certainly the product of a dedicated craftsman:


Second on our list was the oldest existing RV. A 1913 "Earl" trailer pulled by a 1913 Model T:

 The interior is beautiful honey colored oak. The pictures give a good view but they do not convey the color adequately.  Blame the photographer picture taker:


Over the years, we have looked at literally hundreds of RVs. All manner of prices from the cheapest weekender to million dollar rolling mansions. Nothing compares to the obvious care and love that is present in these works of art.

We are not museum people. Having said that, we certainly enjoyed a couple hours visiting this one. If you ever find yourself near Elkhart, this is definitely worth the trip.

A FEW DAYS LATER the urologist released me. Yay!! We decided to see if he was lying about me being fit as a fiddle (maybe he was tired of my mournful screeching like a poorly played violin?) so we did a "short" 18 mile ride on the Pumpkin Vine trail. If you ever get a chance to walk or bike one of the many trails that are converted railways, don't pass it up. They are fantastic. This is no exception.
Fortunately, there is an access point about a mile from our campground. We have ridden to the trail three times since we arrived. It meanders past flower bordered corn fields and through tree shaded arbors:


This is a huge agricultural area. Many farms growing corn, beans and wheat. Probably lots more crops but if my life depended on being able to identify any of them, well, just dig me a hole.

There are a number dairy operations here too. Those dairy farmers, what a crazy bunch!!

CURRENTLY we are prepping to leave. Three weeks is way longer than we planned to be here. Our hitches are itchin'. We will leave here Thursday, but alas, without our motor home...
We are storing it in Elkhart as we car-trip west to visit Robin's and my families in Wyoming and Colorado. We also need to make our once-in-a-lifetime required visit to South Dakota to get our driver's licenses and complete our transformation (legally anyway) from Texans to South Dakotans. I'll explain all that in a future post.

Also, stay tuned, we have a BIG surprise in store in the next few weeks...

Before I close I want to thank everyone for the positive feedback on the blog. Those withholding "other" comments,thanks to you too! We are having a ball with it and look forward to hearing from everyone. Please feel free to share this with any and all. I've reached the point that being passed around is pretty intriguing.

'Til next time, we're just Chasin' Our Dreams!!!